Oh yay I’m close to catching up with the bookclub now!~ Kurugaya is the love of my dreams (get it?) and I really love her route, despite some glaring flaws.
Before I talk about that, the choose-a-Classical-piece-that-suits-the-heroine gimmick. This one I’m choosing for funny reasons: Franz Liszt’s famous nocturne, Liebesträume. I’m going with the third one because it’s the most beautiful yet the most technically demanding, quite in line with Kurugaya’s beauty and intelligence. Also because the title literally means Dreams of Love lmao.
For the route itself, this post is going to be more of a review than a reflection, because a lot has already been said about the themes of this route, and I don’t think I can provide any additional insight on that at the moment.
As I said, I really love this route, but I feel the need to point out its most glaring flaw. The central conflict about the dream ending makes a lot of sense with additional context provided by Refrain, but within the route’s own context, it felt too vague and too intangible to generate any sort of convincing tension. Key sometimes love using “end of dreams” scenario as the center of conflict, but without anything tangible and within the context of the route that supports it as a conflict, it’s hard to get anything out of it. Not to say that it’s unrealistic, but it didn’t really quite work for me.
((Plus I also need to say that the whole sekuhara thing with Kurugaya does not, and will never sit well for me. ))
But you know what, screw that, because Riki and Kurugaya’s relationship is just amazing. It’s hard to find a Key route where the couple dynamic felt this equal. It’s extremely common for Key to write about boy saves girl -> boy learns in the process, and when it’s put in the context of romantic relationships, it’s easy for the dynamic to become unequal. But in Riki and Kurgaya’s relationships, both of them really grow together as they become closer – Riki found the strength to face forward against all odds, while Kurugaya found the emotions she has longed for.
Along with how their relationship developed oh-so-naturally, I just loved the moments where it does away with gender norms; you know I love that kind of thing. It’s not exactly perfect in that regards (and I don’t really read Key VNs for genuine exploration of gender issues), but there are scenes where Kurugaya suggests that Riki doesn’t have to act masculine in their relationship, and they’re great.
So yeah, I may be giving this route merely a solid 4, but this is definitely my favorite heroine route in the so far.
Side note: So Kurugaya’s theme often has the title of “Capriccio,” which is pretty weird but interesting. A Capriccio, or Caprice, is a word often used in many different contexts, but they often refer to really lively pieces. Sometimes, they’re just used to describe the style to which a piece is played, like Rondo a Capriccio (it’s the Rage over a Lost Penny that Kurugaya referenced at some point), or they’re actually names for pieces, like Paganini’s Caprices (here’s the infamous #24). Notice how wild and lively and intense they both sound.
The name makes a bit of sense with Kurugaya’s character theme, but I still don’t know why she would refer to her in-story composition, the melancholic Untitled, a Capriccio. Meanwhile, I can definitely see why Kurugaya is associated with Caprices – she’s not exactly wild, but she’s a lover of all things fun, and she has a strong personality, so there’s that. It may also be due to how technically demanding Caprices can be, and I can see how that matches with Kurugaya’s talents. I can get behind that.